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MUN accuses mines of using Covid-19 as cover for retrenchments

2020-04-14  Staff Reporter

MUN accuses mines of using Covid-19 as cover for retrenchments
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The Mineworkers Union of Namibia (MUN) is accusing some mining houses in the country of taking advantage of the current vulnerability during the Covid-19 pandemic by victimising workers in the form of retrenchment. 

“It is a very embarrassing situation, as instead of companies assisting the government on how to deal with the situation and improving the economy, they are putting a burden on the government by increasing unemployment. It’s high time that companies start treating their employees as business partners, whereby there are consultations with each other and respect because, in a situation where there are an employer and an employee, there are no consultations but employers just make decisions that suit them (thus) ignoring the interests of the workers. Henceforth, that type of relationship will not get us anywhere; there is a need for employers to start opening to their employees regarding the difficulties they are facing and find amicable solutions instead of retrenching their employees and creating unemployment,” said Allen Kalumbu, MUN’s acting president. 

In a statement dated 9 April 2020, Kalumbu said the fact that the Labour Act makes provision for retrenchments should not be abused by companies. He, therefore, called upon all the mining houses to engage with the members of the mineworkers’ branch executive committee at their premises to avoid retrenchments. 

“Furthermore, we would like to call upon the government not to entertain any request of retrenchment especially during this Covid-19 pandemic because there are travel bans and the MUN is disadvantaged, as the Khomas region, where most of the headquarters are, is on lockdown; thus, MUN is not at ease of travelling and is not happy with the current happenings that the companies are making,” read Kalumbu’s 

The MUN’s acting president added that the Chamber of Mines is the platform where mining houses, the MUN and labour commissioners can sit for engagement. However, he bemoaned the fact that recent retrenchments were not discussed, which he said dissatisfied the MUN, as these developments came as short notice. 

“Therefore, we call upon the Ministry of Labour as well as the Ministry of Mines and Energy not to entertain any of the retrenchment requests by the mining houses during this difficult time. Let all the engagements start after the Covid-19 pandemic. We urge the ministries to bear with us in this regard,” Kalumbu concluded. 

Numerous retrenchments in the mining sector were announced recently, including at the Skorpion Zinc Mine and Refinery in southern Namibia, where a care and maintenance announcement will inevitably affect a total of about 1 500 employees. That announcement started to trickle down to the mine’s contractors who have also confirmed retrenchments. 
Photo: MUN
Caption: The MUN head office in Windhoek. The union has called on government not to entertain any retrenchment requests by mining houses during the Covid-19 lockdown. 
Photo: Contributed

2020-04-14  Staff Reporter

Tags: Khomas
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